Earlier this week, Glee star Amber Riley celebrated her 35th birthday. So, not only is it right we celebrate Miss Riley, but also that we take a look back on some of the best TV musical shows that have hit our screens in the past years.
The birthday girl herself – Amber Riley – starred as Mercedes Jones in the musical TV series that took the world by storm, Glee. Mercedes was perhaps one of the more underrated characters who was always put in the background compared to lead star Rachel Berry (Lea Michele). However, she goes on to LA to record her own album and become a star in her own right.
The series that lasted from 2009-2015, ran for six seasons, tackling some of the most talked about issues in society within its main cast of characters.
The pilot episode featured the Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believing”, which saw the Glee casts version of the song go to number one in the charts at the time. Over the next six series, the cast would tackle every song humanely possible, from all genres of music, making it popular for all music lovers.
Unfortunately, the series and cast saw tragedy along the way with the unexpected death of main character Cory Monteith – who played Finn Hudson – after he tragically died of a drug overdose in 2013.
However, the series remains one of the most popular musical TV series of all time (not being bias or anything considering it is my favourite series of all time).
The 2012 series Smash only lasted two series, but it remained popular during its time with a recognisable cast. It tells the story of a previously successful writing duo Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom (Christian Borle) – whom were now veterans of the musical theatre world.
However, chance would give them another shot at the big time to try and create a Broadway hit on the life of actress Marilyn Monroe. The lead up to opening night sees an array of problems arise. The casting of Marilyn comes down between two promising actresses Karen (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy (Megan Hilty), with much of the cast also experiencing their own problems in life…
Now this one is a bit of a throwback to our childhoods. The nickelodeon classic Victorious lasted from 2010 until 2013, seeing 16-year-old Tori Vega (Victoria Justice) invited to attend performing arts school Hollywood Arts after she is discovered to have an amazing voice. Along the way, she makes a great group of friends and takes her chance to “make it shine”.
The cast of Victorious included some that you may recognise today including a younger Ariana Grande as Cat Valentine.
The musical comedy-drama Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ran from 2015 until 2019, telling the story of Rebecca Bunch. Rebecca is a successful young woman who is not only Yale educated but also Harvard educated real-estate lawyer working in New York. Bunch deeply misses her ex -boyfriend so she quits her high life a top shot lawyer, and moved to California with hopes that she will be able to win her old boyfriend back.
At the time of release, the show received low ratings however, it had raving reviews from its critics. Although it remained one of the most low-rated shows in television history, it remained that popular to go on for four seasons and retains a cult following today.
Empire ran for six seasons from 2015 until 2020. The series sees Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) a hip-hop mogul – and former drug dealer – who is currently the CEO of Empire Entertainment. After being told of his imminent early death, he is forced to find a successor for his successful business, so he begins to work on his three sons to take over the family business one day.
On its debut, the premiere brought in 10 million viewers and in its first series finale, it drew in a massive 17 million viewers. Empire became one of Fox’s most watched television shows on the channel.
So, not only should we rightly celebrate Amber Riley in her amazing role as Ms Mercedes Jones in Glee, but we celebrate some of the best TV musical series that you may now want to binge…
By Katie Green
Feature image: Glee Wiki – Fandom